Opening the six-round FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) and the second round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC), the event is contested across 277km of fast flowing Northland New Zealand roads.
Autumnal weather conditions included fog for the opening stages set north of host city Whangarei, causing angst for some. While Paddon added a further 38sec on the field after the opening test, it caught out Australian pairing Richie Dalton and Dale Moscat who left the road at speed.
The journey returned the teams to Whangarei for a midday service break before repeating the loop of stages in the afternoon. Paddon again set fastest time in each test to stretch his advantage.
Italy’s Fabio Frisiero and Simone Scattolin in the Peugeot head the international field, 19th overall with Yuya Sumiyama and Takahiro Yasui from Japan 21st, in a Skoda.
Paddon won the event in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
“This afternoon has gone a lot better on the second time through. It’s been a surprise to be leading international but we’re happy,” said Frisiero. “As the day has gone on our confidence got better. Our feeling for the car got better and so did the grip. Hopefully we will be able to keep it going for tomorrow.”
With the pleasant weather set to continue; Sunday’s remaining eight stages take the teams south of Whangarei. Starting at 7am the journey heads south through Waipu Caves and Millbrook areas before heading west and north through Waiotira and back to Whangarei for a service break mid-morning. Following the late morning early afternoon repeat run the cars then arrive back in Whangarei for the ceremonial finish, held at the Quayside Town Basin from 3pm.
ENEOS International Rally of Whangarei – top-ten overall (provisional)
Pos, No., Driver / Co-driver, Vehicle, Time
1, Hayden Paddon, Hyundai i20 AP4, 1:34:56.2
2, Ben Hunt, Subaru WRX Sti, +04:02.4
3, Emma Gilmour, Suzuki Swift, +05:03.3
4, Nathan Quinn, Ford Fiesta R5 +05:08.5
5, Dylan Turner, Audi Quattro S1 AP4, +05:16.4
6, Graham Featherstone, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 7, +06:04.2
7, Josh Marston, Holden Barina AP4, +06:12.0
8, Grant Blackberry, Mitsubishi, Lancer EVO 10, +07:27.5
9, Geof Argyle, Mitsubishi, Lancer EVO 8, +08:00.7
10, Matthew Jensen, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9, +08:07.1
Souce: Event release